The Jack Hernandez Phronesis Award and Lecture


The Jack Hernandez Phronesis Award and The Jack Hernandez Phronesis Lecture Series will honor a current employee of the Kern Community College District. Honorees must have a minimum of ten years' service (classroom or non-classroom).

Jack Hernandez

After the passing of Dr. Jack Hernandez, it was difficult to summarize the depth of dedication that he brought to all of his endeavors during his tenure with the Kern Community College District, where he served as a faculty member and Dean at Bakersfield College, a Vice Chancellor at the district level, and even as a commissioner for our accrediting agency.

Jack Hernandez was the first director of the Norman Levan Center for the Humanities, and he justifiably received many awards for his service to our district, including the Shirley Trembley Distinguished Teaching Award and Margaret Levinson Faculty Leadership Award offered at Bakersfield College. However, Dr. Hernandez made an especially distinctive professional contribution for which we currently do not have an award.

Throughout his life, and especially leading up to his retirement, Dr. Hernandez exemplified what the ancient Greeks referred to as “phronesis”, or practical wisdom. From his favorite window-side seat at Dagny’s Coffee Shop in downtown Bakersfield, he applied his lifetime of education in philosophy, English and conscious living to compose beautiful essays, journals, poems, and even raps on issues ranging from race and gender, politics and religion, life and death, and the full range of human emotions and experiences.

To honor Jack Hernandez’ lifetime commitment to practical wisdom, or “phronesis”, the Kern Community College District has established the Jack Hernandez Phronesis Award to recognize individuals in the district who apply their professional expertise, academic training and skillset to address practical matters within our district and throughout our community. This award is a special way to honor Dr. Hernandez and continue his legacy and memory for generations to come.

In one of his last pieces for the Bakersfield Californian’s Community Voices, Jack Hernandez wrote that “we all have an afterlife here on this Earth, an afterlife of our stories remembered by those who have known us for many years”. He goes on to say, “my life lives on in them”.

Through the establishment of the Jack Hernandez Phronesis Award and the Jack Hernandez Lecture Series, Jack will have an afterlife here on Earth that will live on for generations to come.


- Chancellor Sonya Christian
May 5, 2022

About the Award

Phronesis is the Greek word for “practical wisdom.” The distinctive mark of phronesis, and thus the purview of this proposed award, is applying one's professional expertise, one's academic training and skillset, to practical matters in one's community.


Announcing The Jack Hernandez Phronesis Award & The Jack Hernandez Lecture Series

The recipient will receive a check in the amount of $1,500.00 and a plaque in his/her honor. The recipient will present a lecture following the Board of Trustee's meeting in April and will be held in the Levan Center.

A perpetual plaque of all recipients will be displayed in the Norman Levan Center for the Humanities at Bakersfield College.



Any employee can nominate or provide supporting evidence for nominations. Members of the Award Committee may nominate or provide supporting evidence for nominations, but if so they must recuse themselves from the work of the committee for that year.

Those nominating someone will need to collect the evidence of their nominee's contributions and show how their academic training informed those contributions. This award is not just a philanthropy award. As its title indicates, the award is intended to honor people who have used their formal academic training to improve their community in practical ways.

Award Committee

  • Chancellor of the Kern Community College District (or designee): Steven Bloomberg
  • Presidents of the three colleges (or designees): Steve Watkin, Sean Hancock, Claudia Habib
  • Academic Senate Presidents of the three colleges (or designees): Erica Menchaca, Rebecca Baird, Yvonne Mills
  • Classified Presidents of all three colleges (or designees): Ian Mason, Shauna Williams, Tanner Barnett
  • Director of the Levan Center: Reggie Williams
  • Daughter of Jack Hernandez: Laura Ehlers
  • Ex-officio: Previous Phronesis recipients


  • January 11, 2024  Announcement and call for nominations
  • February 15, 2024 Nominations period closes
  • March 14, 2024  Announcement of the 2024 recipient at the Kern CCD Board of Trustees meeting
  • Fall 2024 Dinner and lecture (date TBD)

Previous Awards